i feel you (The Cheshire Unicorn) 2019 Toronto Fringe Review

Poster image for i feel you

The most passionate can be the most toxic. The deepest pain can be the sweetest pleasure. Toronto Fringe Festival presents dance theatre investigation i feel you at the Randolph Theatre. It is a beautiful ode to the complexity of human connection.

At the start of the piece, six dancers grace the stage. The audio plays a haunting voice over which makes me feel a bit uncomfortable. It sets the tone for the rest of the performance.

Most of the choreography is done over either an audio sound clip of a person speaking, or a techno soundtrack. Perhaps the company chose to embrace sounds that embody white noise so that the audience can interpret and respond to each sequence as they see fit.

The dancers explore the space together, but are isolated in their movements. It reminds me of children playing in the playground, all together yet separate in their play. A game of imaginary soccer allows the company to collaborate and make eye contact with each other.

In another sequence, paired dancers move across the stage in various ways. The common theme is that each pair is linked in some way. If a pair of dancers move in an embraced position, it evoked positive feelings. When one dancer dragged a reluctant dancer across the stage, it evoked feelings of fear and anxiety. This sequence made me reflect on the notion that one singular person can have an immense impact on another.

One alluring sequence was between a model and photographer. The voice of a photographer would command instructions to the model. As time progressed, the photographer became increasingly demanding and obscure. Some instructions were to “choke oneself” or “bite her ankle.” The dancer complied and would contort her body based on the photographers demands. While I was in awe of the dancer’s beauty and ability, I also felt disgusted at the photographer’s instructions. It made me think of how controversial media is with female body presentation.

The company is strategic in their clear choice of when to use vocalizations or when to omit them. Dancers would grunt or scream at specific moments in the piece as an attempt to heighten fear or anxiety in the audience. Other times, the dancers rely on their facial expression to guide the audience how to react. I applaud the company’s use of vocalization and facial expression in combination with their exquisite choreography.

With a combination of choreographed and experimentally-devised movement, performers connect through love & passion, control & power, desire & guilt, jealousy & addiction. i feel you is a powerful dance piece that will allow you to explore complex emotions and human connections.

Details

  • i feel you plays at the Randolph Theatre. (736 Bathurst St.)
  • Tickets are $13, including a $2 service charge. The festival also offers a range of money-saving passes and discounts for serious Fringers.
  • Tickets can be purchased online, by telephone (416-966-1062), from the Festival Box Office at Scadding Court (275 Bathurst St.), and — if any remain — from the venue’s box office starting one hour before curtain.
  • Content Warning: nudity.
  • This venue is wheelchair-accessible through a secondary route. We recommend checking in with the venue box office at least 15 minutes before showtime.
  • Be aware that Fringe performances always start exactly on time, and that latecomers are never admitted.
  • The Toronto Fringe Festival is scent-free: please do not wear perfumes, colognes, or other strongly-scented products.

Performances

  • Wednesday July 3rd, 6:30 pm
  • Friday July 5th, 10:00 pm
  • Sunday July 7th, 2:45 pm
  • Monday July 8th, 5:45 pm
  • Wednesday July 10th, 8:30 pm
  • Thursday July 11th, 9:00 pm
  • Saturday July 13th, 8:30 pm

Poster image provided by the company